Although in their fifth anniversary season, Columbia Ballet Collaborative’s fresh and exciting aesthetic continues to bring ballet to the forefront of a mostly modern dance scene here at Columbia. In their hour-length performance at Miller Theater this past Friday and Saturday, six varied works by professional and student choreographers provided for an all together minimalistic, although well executed show.
The evening opened with one of the strongest pieces of choreography titled Pilot by Richard Isaac. The cargo pant clad quartet weaved in an out of one another, sharing weight, limbs, and energy. The piece began with a soloist exquisitely undulating her torso and upper back through the negative space created by the placement of her arms. As the other three dancers began to roll on the floor, envelopé their unfairly long and toned legs, and leap their way from stage right to left, they consistently maintained points of contact with one another. Although Isaac’s choreography was the most contemporary of the six pieces, the dancers at times lacked the precision, musicality, and cohesion to executive the poignancy of his movement.
II. choreographed by resident choreographer Emery LeCrone, was unconventional and beautifully imaginative. The duet, danced by Dan Pahl and Lauren Alpert, featured these technically astute dancers in almost perfect unison for the entirety of the piece. The dancers were stylistically so in sync that the two bodies seemed to merge into one. The most remarkable part of the work was the gestural floor section in which Pahl and Alpert rotated, flipped, and twisted their bodies one motion at a time. LeCrone’s use of stillness in this section was a refreshing turn from the fast-paced movement of the first section, and made use of syncopated timing and different facings. Unlike Pilot, the dancers’ unison was without fault, allowing LeCrone’s vision to be fulfilled.
The two pointe pieces of the performance, unlike Isaac’s and LeCrone’s work, were more classical ballet than contemporary. Allegretto by Anne Milewski Cary and Just Passing by Avi Scher were cleanly executed and technically commendable, but conventional and predictable in their choreography. The dancers made beautiful lines and moved swiftly in their simplistic leotard and skirt costumes, but the works were unvaried, a bit lackluster, and quite similar to one another, making it difficult to leave the theater remembering anything distinct about either one.
The finale of the evening was an upbeat crowd pleaser by Kimi Nikaidoh. Morning Will Break featured the nine dancers in neon tanks and black spandex, doing more hip shaking than would be expected from a typical ballet performance. Set to music by Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Cat Stevens, and Three Dog Night, the dancers got to do what is often unseen in contemporary ballet: smile. Although not the most thought-provoking work of the evening. Nikaidoh’s piece was highly entertaining and successful at leaving every audience member smiling just as wide as the dancers were.